>The redevelopment in east-end Toronto isn’t just important for the families living in the 120
TCH apartments, who will have the opportunity to live in better homes, but for
the city as a whole.
That’s because the original plan called for replacing the social housing units
and building an additional 500 condos to help pay for the redevelopment on
Queen St. E. near Coxwell Ave. As usual, there would have been nothing to
serve the middle of the housing market.
Thankfully, the city and local councillor Paula Fletcher fought for, and
succeeded in getting, a greater mix of housing.
Toronto is long past the stage where all the city needs is social housing for
the poorest among us plus expensive condos and houses for those who can afford
to buy them.
The city has a broad affordable housing crisis and a shortage of rental
housing so severe that the business community is warning it risks impeding
That’s why this project is just the kind of development the city needs. It
will replace the 120 social housing units and add 180 market-priced rentals,
100 more affordable rentals and 350 condos.
Toronto city council has long been criticized for failing to use its most
valuable asset — land — to get the mix of housing that is so desperately
So it’s welcome to see that is starting to change.
The city’s Open Door program seeks to fast-track the creation of affordable
Toronto recently set aside parcels of city-owned land to produce rental
housing rather than selling it off to the highest bidder, which would all but
ensure that nothing but high-priced condos gets built.
And the Queen and Coxwell development is the first time the city has included
all kinds of housing in one project — from social housing to market rentals to
privately owned homes.
It wasn’t easy. Negotiations with developers rarely are and it was no
exception when TCH reached a deal with Context Development Inc. Fletcher says
it took time to “change the conversation” about the range of housing the city
expected to see in this project.
It’s worth the time and effort to get something this important right.
Beyond the success of getting rentals included, this project is part of the
equally important and ongoing recognition that housing for a range of incomes
is the best way forward whenever a housing complex is redeveloped.
The dramatic overhaul of Regent Park, the largest of these revitalization
projects, demonstrates what an important difference it makes.
What was once a closed-off community known for crime and poverty is now a
mixed-income neighbourhood that’s as welcoming as any other in the city.
It’s home to a public pool, athletic grounds, cultural centre and retail
shops, including a FreshCo grocery store, Tim Hortons, Shoppers Drug Mart and
Royal Bank — none of which was there before.
Toronto’s future economic success rests in part on making sure that everyone,
from service workers to young professionals to working families, can find a
home here. And that won’t happen if we only produce housing on either end of
the income extremes, with nothing in the middle.
Mixed communities full of renters and owners with a range of incomes is what
will serve Toronto best.
Those are the key principles the city needs to keep at the forefront of its
housing policies from here on in.